Shaping the Sermon: Meaning, Engagement and Delight

Adrian Lane

Abstract: Preachers often struggle with their sermon’s shape. Moreover, lack of careful consideration of shape may mean exposition is not as faithful to the biblical text as one would hope. This introductory article is designed to help preachers in this process by considering the dynamic creative spiritual work of moving from text to shape, and by examining a range of shapes so that the shape of the sermon is not only faithful to the text, but also facilitates the communication of meaning, engagement and delight.

This article was first published in Churchman, Volume 132 No. 3 (Autumn 2018), 237-252.

Read the PDF here.


The God who illustrates

The God who illustrates: using illustration in preaching

Adrian Lane

Abstract: God communicates through illustration, and this paper explores the implications for preaching. It argues that illustration is not just a means of supporting argument or concept, but also inherently communicates truth. Good illustrations amplify meaning through multivalence, as in typology. Principles and tools for developing illustrations in homiletical practice, consonant with the Scriptures, are then discussed, including the use of reversal and escalation.

This article was first published in Churchman, Vol. 128, No. 4 (Winter 2014), pp. 329-344.

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Learning from the legacy of John Charles Chapman

Learning from the Legacy of John Charles Chapman: Australian Evangelist, Preacher, Teacher and Writer.

Adrian Lane

Abstract: John Charles Chapman exercised a lengthy, extensive and influential ministry, as an evangelist, preacher, mentor, trainer, lecturer, writer and church leader. Following his death in 2012, this paper surveys his ministry and calls for further study and assessment of Chapman’s legacy. The paper identifies sources, bibliographic material and areas worthy of research. It highlights Chapman’s commitment to public evangelistic proclamation through the use of expository preaching within a strong framework of Biblical Theology. In modelling and training others in this approach, both in Australia and overseas, it is argued that Chapman pioneered and exercised considerable influence on the development and character of a significant strain in Australian preaching, especially evangelistic preaching, and in doing so offers a distinctively Australian contribution to homiletics more generally.

An earlier version of this paper was originally presented at Preaching Australia: Religion, Public Conversation and the Sermon, St Mark’s National Theological Centre, Canberra, 19 September 2013 and subsequently published in St Mark’s Review, No. 230, December 2014 (4).

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Delivery in Festo Kivengere’s Preaching

Alfred Olwa, Uganda Christian University

After introducing Festo Kivengere of Uganda and his audience gathered at Urbana to whom Kivengere preached, the topic of this paper is discussed under the headings of two questions, namely, what did he preach? and, how did he preach? By answering these questions Kivengere’s view and style of preaching is illuminated.

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Toward a hermeneutic of responsibility

Charles de Jongh, Malyon College

Studies in hermeneutics have largely focused on method and the application of such methods; however, the significance of hermeneutical method or methods in the actual exegetical process has received limited or restricted attention, particularly as the issue relates to the preaching event. As much exegesis is carried out by men and women in the context of Christian ministry in general and preaching in particular, it is important to consider how they view the significance of hermeneutical method in the exegetical process. Arising from that is the requirement to reflect on how they may best approach the exegetical task, and to present guidelines for the task.

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Application and Persuasion: Bringing all of God’s Word to all in His World

Adrian Lane, Senior Lecturer in Ministry Skills and Church History, Ridley College.

This article was first published in Churchman Spring 2013, Vol. 127 No. 1, 55-70.

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Application and Persuasion: The Complaint and Challenge[1]

A common complaint from those who listen to sermons is that the preacher ‘only told us what we already knew. We were no better off after the sermon than before. We could have got that by staying home and reading the text ourselves.’ In other words, all the preacher has done is rehearse the text. Even when the preacher has expounded the text in the light of the rest of the Bible, bringing new insights or deepening truths already believed, the congregation hasn’t felt fed, hasn’t had its ‘itches’ scratched.[2] The preacher hasn’t integrated the text with the issues faced daily by the listeners. Or, to put it in Barth’s terms, there’s been no connection between ‘the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other’.[3] Even when the preacher has made some attempt to apply the text, often that application is superficial, hackneyed, limited to private spirituality, or more suited to another text. Unfortunately, the preacher hasn’t wrestled robustly with the contemporary implications and imperatives arising from this particular text.

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“It better be a good sermon”: Preaching on special occasions

Adrian Lane, Lecturer in Ministry Skills and Church History, Ridley College.

In any sermon, preachers are under pressure: pressure from their own expectations of competence and fruitfulness; pressure from the congregation to say something worthwhile, worthy of their stipend; pressure from their family, lest they cause embarrassment; pressure from colleagues, mentors and bishops: to be faithful to their calling and training; and pressure from God: knowing the gravity of their ministry, that teachers “will be judged more strictly” (Jas 3:1).

See the full article (PDF): Preaching on special occasions

The article was recently published in the book Better Be A Good Sermon: Preaching for Special Occasions and Contexts (Acorn 2011). This collection of articles and related sermons is available from the publisher, Acorn Press, and the Simeon Association, Brisbane for $29.99.